MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Mountaineers have been a streaky shooting team for much of this season. West Virginia ranks sixth in the Big 12 in overall shooting percentage, and is next-to-last in field goal percentage against conference opponents.
WVU’s lack of consistency in that area has been evident throughout its three-game losing skid.
Take Saturday’s loss to Texas Tech.
A fadeaway jumper by Kedrian Johnson with 8:41 remaining in the ballgame gave West Virginia an eight-point lead, and took the Mountaineers’ team shooting percentage to a respectable 51 percent.
WVU made just three of its 15 shot attempts the rest of the game, including missing its final six shots from the floor as the eight-point lead turned into a six-point loss. Erik Stevenson, who scored a team-high 27 points, missed six of his final seven shots over that stretch.
“I definitely got good looks, they just didn’t go in,” said Stevenson.
While Hall of Fame head coach Bob Huggins acknowledged that Stevenon’s 9-for-21 shooting performance was far from his best, he also admitted that it appeared the fifth-year guard was willing to put up a shot when others weren’t.
“I don’t know who else is going to take them. I mean, we had other guys who had shots but didn’t take them,” said Huggins. “I mean, we could all probably sit here and say maybe Keddy should’ve taken all of them instead of Erik, because Keddy made his and Erik didn’t. But that’s hindsight, how do you know that? Erik started out making everything.”
Texas Tech made eight of its final 13 shots attempts from the floor, most of which came from inside the paint, over the game’s final nine minutes.
While WVU’s shot-making abilities faltered down the stretch against the Red Raiders, they disappeared earlier in the previous two losses on the road.
On Monday against No. 9 Baylor, West Virginia held an early 18-12 lead after opening the contest 7 of 11 from the floor. The Mountaineers then missed each of their next 11 shots and 12 of 14 over the final 11 minutes of the opening half.
The six-point lead was erased, Huggins’ club went into the locker room down by seven, and trailed by as many as 19 points in the second half.
Two days prior against No. 5 Texas, the Mountaineers jumped out to a 12-8 lead after making five of their first eight shots attempts. What followed was a 2-for-12 shooting slump that allowed the Longhorns to take a 13-point lead.
Texas never looked back, handing the Mountaineers a 34-point loss as WVU suffered through its second-worst shooting performance (35.2%) of the entire season.
Over this three-game stretch, West Virginia is shooting a combined 72 of 167 (43.1%). Just four different Mountaineers — Kedrian Johnson, Emmitt Matthews Jr., Patrick Suemnick, and Josiah Harris — made more than 50 percent of their shot attempts in any of the three games when taking at least four shots in the contest.
“We’re 2 for 6, 1 for 6,” Huggins said Saturday after going through Texas Tech’s shooting numbers. “Keddy’s 8 for 13, he’s the only guy on our team that’s even close to being over 50 percent. 9 for 21, 2 for 6, 1 for 3, 2 for 5. How are we going to win?”